Submitted by Oswego County
Officials from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) National Weather Service Forecast Office in Buffalo recently congratulated the Oswego County Legislature’s Public Safety and Emergency Services Committee for continuing to meet a set of rigorous warning criteria necessary to maintain the distinction of being StormReady®.
“StormReady® communities have the improved communication and safety skills needed to save lives and property – before and during an event,” said Judith Levan, warning coordination meteorologist for the Buffalo Forecast Office.
The nationwide community preparedness program uses a grassroots approach to help communities develop plans to handle local severe weather and flooding threats. The program is voluntary and provides communities with clear-cut advice from a partnership between local National Weather Service Forecast Offices and state and local emergency managers.
StormReady® started in 1999 with seven communities in the Tulsa, Oklahoma area and there are now nearly 1,700 StormReady® communities across the country.
Thomas Niziol, meteorologist-in-charge of the National Weather Service Forecast Office in Buffalo, presented a letter of recognition to the Oswego County Legislature’s Public Safety and Emergency Services Committee during their November meeting.
“I would like to extend our sincere appreciation to Patricia Egan, director of the Oswego County Emergency Management Office, for the tremendous effort she has put forth to accomplish the goals of the program,” Niziol told the committee. “Pat has developed an excellent working relationship with the National Weather Service over the years and we recognize her diligent effort to maintain community readiness in anticipation of natural disasters of any type.”
Niziol cited several weather emergencies over the years in which county staff worked well with the National Weather Service, including a tornado in Palermo on June 28 of this year, the 2007 lake effect snowstorm that buried the county with 141 inches of snow in two weeks, and the 2003 ice storm.
“Oswego County, in partnership with the National Weather Service, has made the effort to ensure that they have the communication and safety skills needed to save lives and property in the event of another weather-related disaster,” Niziol continued. “You are an excellent example for other counties in New York State.”
“We’re pleased to be re-designated a StormReady® community,” Egan said. “We take very seriously the need to be prepared for all hazards that might occur. Severe weather – winter storms, potential flooding, high winds, and so forth – is just one of the threats we face throughout the year.”
Egan praised members of the Oswego County Emergency Communicators Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service (RACES), a group of amateur radio operators that assist the Oswego County Emergency Management Office with back-up communications during emergencies. Members of the group who served on the county’s StormReady® Reapplication Committee include Radio Officer John Darling, K2QQY; Skywarn Coordinator Judy LaMay, KC2SUM; and Alternate Radio Officer Bob LaMay, WA2AFF.
Oswego County was first designated as a StormReady® community in 2004 and re-certified by the National Weather Service in 2007.
To be recognized as StormReady®, a community must:
- Establish a 24-hour warning point and emergency operations center
- Have more than one way to receive severe weather forecasts and warnings and to alert the public
- Create a system that monitors local weather conditions
- Promote the importance of public readiness through community seminars
- Develop a formal hazardous weather plan, which includes training severe weather spotters and holding emergency exercises
“Just like communities, families need to be storm ready by having an action plan for severe weather,” Levan said. “The National Weather Service strives to educate everyone about what to do when severe weather strikes because it is ultimately each individual’s responsibility to protect him or herself.” She encouraged residents to develop disaster plans to prepare themselves for all hazards that can affect their area.
The Oswego County Legislature’s Public Safety and Emergency Services Committee oversees the Oswego County Emergency Management Office. It includes Chairwoman Linda Lockwood, District 11; Vice Chairman Kevin Gardner, District 13; and legislators Mary Flett, District 17; Margaret Kastler, District 1; John J. Martino, District 6; Morris Sorbello, District 23; and Amy Tresidder, District 16.